It’s hard to believe it’s taken this long to see this headline, isn’t it? In the Soundview editorial department, we’ve been reading for some time the cautionary tales of the lack of privacy created by social media. Several business books have suggested to workers and managers alike that online overexposure of one’s private thoughts and personal activities could lead to potential problems in the workplace.
Now we’re presented with the case of Dawnmarie Souza, an employee of the Connecticut-based ambulance service American Medical Response. Souza is in the midst of a lawsuit that (I suppose) could be classed as a debate over wrongful termination. What makes the case interesting is that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is accusing American Medical Response of dismissing Souza for making derogatory remarks about her supervisor on Facebook. American Medical Response counters this claim by stating that Souza was terminated for “multiple, serious complaints about her behavior.”
According to the NLRB, employees have the right to discuss working conditions with other employees under the National Labor Relations Act. In its coverage of the case, The New York Times notes:
The board’s complaint prompted Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, a law firm with a large labor and employment practice representing hundreds of companies, to send a “lawflash” advisory on Monday to its clients, saying, “All private sector employers should take note,” regardless “of whether their work force is represented by a union.”
The firm added, “Employers should review their Internet and social media policies to determine whether they are susceptible to an allegation that the policy would ‘reasonably tend to chill employees’ ” in the exercise of their rights to discuss wages, working conditions and unionization.
I think the latter point is the important one for readers to remember. Employers and employees alike should review their Internet and social media policies. For companies that have yet to establish one, the case involving Souza should serve as a wake-up call to create such a policy. More and more companies are starting to realize that the workplace of tomorrow is here today.
For a more in-depth glimpse into the workplace of tomorrow, check out Soundview’s summary of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today by Jeanne Meister and Karie Willyerd. Visit Soundview at Summary.com to learn more.